Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Comet I Came In On

I've been watching an infinity of science shows on TV. I'm becoming something of a groupie for the greats in science. If so many of them weren't dead long ago, I'd be at their dressing room door.

It's refreshing to me, being able to see my Fellow Brains exploring things and explaining it so others can finally understand what's going on. If I knew how exciting it was in school, I would've been fascinated by the recesses of the past. Instead, all I can look back on are the recesses of the past.

I have to nod every time Neil deGrasse Tyson says something, or Michio Kaku, or when Stephen Hawking's narrator voice speaks. I friend-love each of these guys (h.t. to Yumi Sakugawa). Tyson, I frankly never heard of till the Cosmos show, now I find he's been famous all this time. Proving once again, the talk at the barber show is strictly lowbrow. I definitely think Tyson's cool. If we could do a brain switch, it'd be me flying in space, and him writing these trifles.

As for flying in space, actually we all are! Ultimately, at these speeds, the Milky Way galaxy flying a million miles an hour, you'd think it'd at least mess your hair. But somehow we don't notice it that much, especially when we stay inside. The fact is it's all very big, millions of miles across, big like Greenland on the Mercator map.

Some of the shows I've seen lately have touched on comets and the theory that earth's water came from outer space. The way time works is if you have enough of it, anything's possible. It might take 100 million years for the earth to form, then another 100 million for comets to create the oceans, maybe a thousand gallons at a pop. Very weird stuff, but perfectly timed. Unless you're worried about all the comets that missed us before earth was here. Someone else has our water!

Naturally, 100 million years, not to mention 13.8 billion years, takes us rather far afield of 4004 BC, and that glorious day when, after a restful weekend, God smiled and created the heavens and the earth. It's getting tougher to hold to the "one swell foop" doctrine, especially when we can still look and see the light from 13.8 billion years ago. But to each his own. I actually haven't yet given up on the theory that we won't be created for another 100 years, and our apparent presence now is only meant to eventually test our faith in the Doctrine of Postponed Reality.

You can't deny the attractiveness of the doctrine. None of my mistakes have yet happened. I can still be Tyson and Tyson me. And someday I'll miraculously "write" all the Beatles' songs at the age of 5. Coincidentally, at this moment I'm listening to Mozart's 40th symphony, another of my future originals.

OK, the comets are theorized not just to have brought water but the beginnings of life on earth. Which makes sense, if the earth was previously nothing but dry asteroids colliding and erupting in fire. We know comets have ice. I posit that a million of them put out the fires and the rest filled the ocean basins. Surely among 500 million comets there'd have to be at least two living germs hot to trot.

It's all been so long ago, of course we don't know which comet it was. It's the stuff of Cold Case. But we know how it turned out. A germ, various mutations, the dinosaur, more mutations, the gerbil, the cockatiel, more mutations, a monkey in a tree, Darwin, the rest of us, Devo, and finally Neil deGrasse Tyson and me. O the regrets! He was a friends with Carl Sagan and became a great astrophysicist. I had a tough time making friends, but could spell 'encyclopedia' in 5th grade and understood the distinctions between 'from' and 'form' when they stumped the other kids. The glory years!

Remember the cult a few years ago -- in the '90s -- waiting for a comet to pick them up? They didn't get it. The comet you came in on dropped you off for a reason, then crashed somewhere. It ain't coming back.

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